Check out Ashton Billeter's reflection from Nigeria 2017 and her new outlook and vision on life!
As I began to board the plane in Paris, to continue the rest of my destination back home, it began to get more surreal. This was the first flight where I separated from my team members- that’s when it got real that we were actually leaving to go home. It was so hard to control all of my emotions after leaving the village. I was so surprised I was able to control my emotions when saying goodbye to all of the kids. Coming from the kids telling us “though we meet to part, we part to meet again.” As soon as we got in the car, I began to read one of the many letters written by the kids. Tears began to roll down my face. I could not stop thinking about each and every one of them. All my heart wanted to do, was go back to that wonderful village!
There are not enough words to describe how incredible, powerful and amazing this trip was. I could spend an entire day telling you about everything that happened while I was in Nigeria. Truth to be told, this trip and these kids drastically changed my life! They made me realize this is the woman I have been striving to be. I became that little girl again who wanted to serve and change the world. They say that mission trips are life changing experiences and give you a different perspective. I am here to tell you that is all true! These kids loved me and challenged my faith in ways that are indescribable. By the end of the three weeks, we were holding them accountable yet, they were holding us accountable as well. We wanted to instill in them to give 100% in all they do, to strive for their dreams and goals that God has for them and to believe in themselves. The only person that can keep them from achieving what God has in store for them is themselves. What these kids did not know is that this was something I myself was struggling with. It is so easy to let the doubts in and listen all the people telling you that you can’t achieve your goals. Not only that, it is so easy to let roadblocks get in the way such as finances, resources and so on… And think it is never going to happen. MOAM was an answered prayer for me that allowed me to achieve an ultimate dream of mine which is to go and serve. I came home with a different perspective on life. Before leaving Oklahoma, I was a nervous wreck. I thought, “I am just a college graduate preparing to teach the basics of these sports. I am not a coach.” I became coach Ashton in just three weeks. Even though there were times I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, I had to step in with confidence as if I did. Talk about being pushed out of my comfort zone! But as people say, “if you stay in your comfort zone then you cannot grow.” For so long, I let the thoughts of others determine how I would respond and act instead of believing in who I was and who God created me to be.
The last day of sports, we challenged the kids to the max to show them truly how much they have in them. We finished the day with a 45 minute run after reading the story of the crucifixion. The rules were that they could run or walk but they were not permitted to talk, sit down or stop. As time drew near to a close we saw some of the team captains, which were the older boys, step up as leaders and grab the hands of others, pushing them to keep going and not give up. By the end, we saw true leadership and unity amongst all of these kids. We finished in a circle, holding hands and singing Amazing Grace. After we closed in prayer, we had some of the kids begin to cry. It was amazing to see how this team building exercise broke down walls and showed them their true capability! These kids are going to be world changers!
Each and every one of them impacted me in some shape or form in just a few weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine how many lives they are going to influence! It is safe to say I am going to miss them. I am going to miss that 6:30am wake up call, holding me accountable for my morning run. I am going to miss teaching devotions and sports. I am going to miss going to a different cottage every night for devotions. These kids loved spending every moment possible with us. To now not be there with them and spend every moment with them has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to process.
Before leaving, I told God that I want to come back a changed person and to make a difference in whatever the next step is that God has for me. I am glad to say that I have been blessed with a different perspective and a vision for what God wants me to do next. This week of being home ,I have been processing all I have learned and focusing on the areas I need to work on in my life. I am also praying for what it is that God wants me to do next. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and made this dream possible.